tulips are free

I can walk outside right now, and pick tulips to fill my vase.

My soul is not quite gone, half in, half out, a winter Christian waiting on the Lord’s Word through the flawed human genome of the truth. I’ve seen barren men laden with hate and rage lay down their weapons, crumble to their knees, brother to brother, Good God, let her speak.

Chocolate pudding and a five-star view of James Street, lit up on a random October night. In April, we saw you marry in the gossamer ribbon of my backyard, the forest and the stream, huddled umbrellas blue and black, Beth behind a long zoom, me in the only dress that fit, hiding beneath layers of apple pie dough, my son a laughing blur with this little girl playing tag.

Music men like to stay up late at night, travel unknown roads for days, serenade for one. They remember me, their hands shake a little before another solo, notes flying off a page, cutting bloodless rivers into my heart.

To them, I am beautiful, beautiful trash.

I dance in the ribbons of dark and light left by the discarded, tourist sunsets.

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but not for me

I make up perfect matches in my head. But I won’t make my own. I don’t know why.
Everyone belongs together, except me.

I wasn’t always this ugly. Waiting, every day is the same, for that one big break in the clouds with the sun, the moon, and the stars, when the shadow becomes the boy who is the man who loves only me.

After Mark told me I repulsed him, after Russell forced himself on me, after Jon carried a torch for every girl but me, after all of those unhappy endings, somewhere in time, I began to forget. I died on that cliff, neither female or male, a spirit on the road to nowhere, a ghost who stayed, walk right through me.

Who am I without you?

Back to Goddard

Last year, my son hobbled on crutches to the soccer game — to watch his JV team play from the sidelines. The night before, 30 minutes left to practice, he turned in a scrimmage and heard his leg pop, then fell on the ground in agonizing pain.

His first partially torn MCL.

Six weeks of rest, PT, and recovery. Plenty of heartache.

It feels weird to watch the world go on without you. Lonely, too.

He’s been in that position before. Many times.

But this one really hurt.

 

Well, earlier tonight, a year later, he returned to Goddard Stadium at Mariner High School in different circumstances. He played with his JV team, holding up the defensive line as center back sweeper — with pride and ferocity.

The team made some mistakes. Took some time warming up and connecting passes.

They didn’t win. That would’ve been a movie-of-the-week.

Life doesn’t work that way. Not my life, anyway.

After Mariner scored a goal in the first half, Kamiak came back quickly, answering with its own goal to eventually end the game in a tie, 1-1.

We’ll take it. Considering…

fall, sing, play

I only know I am free, that eight-year-old child before she knew better, before she knew she could not fly because Mary Poppins did.

I watch this strange man, a boss, an underling god sent to find one black sheep, press play on my tape recorder — five short minutes of my life — nod appreciatively at my use of “denouement” to ascribe the elite in the nonpareil artist, close to approval, dismissal, release. He will never know how close he came to the original recording.

overlapping, I fall into another man’s arms, not cliché at all, because I am that little girl again, climbing her favorite tree to the top branch, to the sunset and beyond, music in this round red plastic Death Star, dreams and plans and schemes and this one sweet boy who will sing me to sleep every night, he says, “Carol,” as if I will break

I fall. Everything he says, he says in a shiver, the rush of a new river, the flight of a baby dove, hurry before she wakes, everything contains the meaning of life, our purpose, why his knees buckle just a little bit whenever she looks up from her schoolbooks and her property line.

I can’t tell him the truth. He forgets himself.

(you hover over me, guilt watchtower
reality in slow motion
but I did not fuck that streamlined centerfold)

Fat’s Chicken and Waffles: I’m a believer!

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Good, Lord! I’ll have another!!

With very few exceptions, I will not stand for mixing savory and sweet in my food.

Pineapples on pizza? Strawberry salad? Donut burgers? Sticky eel syrup over sushi?

This sweet-savory food trend is big with Asians, especially. Not this Asian. I’m already salty about kim chee tasting like candied cabbage. Enough already.

I could never get my head around chicken and waffles, either — until Sunday. Rather, #SuperSoulSunday at Fat’s Chicken and Waffles on the corner of Cherry and MLK in Seattle’s Central District.

A few weeks ago, I actually had a chance to eat Fat’s Chicken and Waffles, mac ‘n cheese, and wings three ways, along with Hurricane drinks, for free — after a one-woman show I enjoyed covering for Medium/Festival Peak.

I passed. (Not because of the aversion necessarily, but because I’m on a never-ending low-carb diet.)

Sometime during Spring Break, I got it in my head to go somewhere new and cool with my family, a sort of last hurrah before school started up again. At first, it was Sunday Brunch, pick a soul food place. Our son, 16, chose Fat’s.

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Then, I began to think of the Sunday Brunch crowd that would converge on that corner with very little seating and very little parking (we’re talking downtown Seattle, a stone’s throw from Capitol Hill). Local guides on Google affirmed to avoid peak times, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

I thought about our late-night eating and all-day sleeping habits, and re-thought the Brunch straight away.

The next morning, we rescheduled our Sunday Brunch to dinner, arriving when the restaurant opened again at 5 p.m.

Glad we did, because we easily found street parking a few feet away and walked into a near-empty restaurant. Halfway into our dinner, the crowds would come pouring in, reinforcing that last-minute change.

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Yes, please.

If there are red beans and rice, grits, and collard greens on the menu, I will order it. So, I did. Fat’s offers sample plates and mix ‘n match entrees with sides that can be turned into appetizers. I took advantage of this perk by ordering Shrimp and Grits with Piquant sauce and Pecorino, then Red Beans and Rice and Collard Greens.

My husband went with the famous Fat’s Fried Chicken and Waffles, with a side of Fried Green Tomatoes for the remoulade sauce.

Our son couldn’t decide: Fried Chicken Legs and a side of Mac ‘n Cheese? That is, until his dad pointed out a relatively new menu item (since March): Honey Butter Fried Chicken Biscuit Sandwich, with add-ons of an over-easy egg, bacon, and cheese, and a mountain of the best slim-cut fries.

OMG. The best. Words can’t describe the symphony in my mouth.

Huge portions.

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The creamy, spicy, complex Shrimp and Grits with the punch of Pecorino and that buoyant Piquant sauce straight from New Orleans… The hearty, tender Collard Greens I could live on… The Red Beans and Rice, a perfect balance of heat and cool, fiery and comfort… Those gigantic square buttery biscuits! James didn’t know whether to eat it like a sandwich or cut it into pieces.

When I tried my husband’s Chicken & Waffles, I realized the magic of the blend of savory and sweet. Together, they created a new taste sensation. One without the other would not work.

I’m truly a new convert. My whole family is.

My husband and I haven’t enjoyed soul food like this in ages, since way before our only child was born. And this was our son’s first experience, definitely not his last.

The two women working the tables welcomed us like family. I noticed them chatting up the other customers like they were regulars and opening up like Christmas whenever a child came around, even a teenager like our son.

We’ll be back. This is going to be our regular Sunday family hang.

Besides, there are other dishes we’re dying to try.

Seattle’s Turning Me into a Passive-Aggressive Asshole

I don’t know what I saw in Seattle. I must have been insane to want to move here, and from Hawaii no less!

In my meager defense, I got sick of the sun. It’s unbearably hot and muggy in Hawaii. Ridiculously expensive, too. We live on an island. Most of our goods are shipped over from the Mainland and parts unknown.

I also got sick of the overcrowding, small town, “No make A” personality. We’re also of “The Nail That Sticks Up” persuasion, which sucks for a loud-mouthed weirdo like me.

Back in the mid-’90s, when “Singles” made the grade, I honestly thought Seattle was my oasis, the place I’d go to grow into my true self, with my people. Everyone’s weird here (and in Portland), right? Kurt Cobain, Bruce Lee, and Jimi Hendrix doing their thing weird. I’d fit right in.

Kinda sorta for a minute.

But Seattle people are good at pretending to like you, dancing around the subject, killing you with kindness but not genuine friendship. A Bay Area Uber driver said this to a former Oaklander in an overly kind Stranger piece: “(…Seattleites are nice but not friendly).”

I’ve known people who lived in Seattle for a long time finally give up on trying to make friends and leave for much nicer, friendlier, genuine places like Phoenix or Nashville. I don’t blame them.

I can count on one hand the number of true, blue friends I’ve made and kept — and most of them aren’t even from here.

As it turns out, Seattle’s not much different than Hawaii. The cost of living has become astronomical, the constant rain is just as unbearable as the constant sun, and the meaning of “Aloha” has been bastardized for profit. Seattle’s an image, not a home, not for me.

The worst part of living here is watching me turn into a passive-aggressive asshole. That’s horrible for an introspective, painfully shy weirdo. I’m already passive-aggressive, out of survival. The last thing I need or want is confrontation. I grew up with strong personalities who aren’t afraid of getting in your face, my East Coast dad among them.

I learned early on to hide, blend, make nice, so that bullies will leave me alone. It’s a reflex I desperately want to unlearn, for my own health.

Deep down inside me is a real person who is neither passive-aggressive or confrontational. I must be true to myself, I must express how I feel, what I think.

I’m a writer by nature.

I can’t keep anything in, the good, the bad, the ugly. When I’m stressed, overwhelmed, in pain, I am incapable of holding all that toxicity inside. I have to let it out. That’s how I cope. That’s been my saving grace.

But, I’m surrounded by passive-aggressive assholes, who are very good at not saying what they mean — often, until it’s too late.

They’ve reinforced that well-honed instinct in me, too. I hate that so much.

Last night, I made a simple request of a photographer who shot one of my husband’s gigs. Could I use a photo he took for an upcoming jazz event? To use with a bio I’d write?

The photographer responded with a price, $25 for unlimited use of an image of my own husband, at a gig he asked to shoot for practice, with a lens he borrowed from another photographer, who turned out to be more generous. This other photographer is from California originally, fyi.

I found myself curtly replying, “No thanks.” Then fuming, passive-aggressively going through all the protocols and the fear of reprisal if I said anything mean. What if this photographer got mad and then said something mean to me? What if he took it out on my husband? They share common acquaintances from that gig with that band.

Then, I said to myself, Fuck this bullshit, unfriended and blocked him with my husband’s permission (“To be honest, I really don’t like him”), and vented out in the open on Facebook and Twitter. Of course, someone on Facebook asked for details. I hesitated. ?For about a minute.

Fuck it, and without naming names (I’m still recovering), detailed what had happened with this photographer as a catalyst for my ongoing, long-standing issue with people who dismiss/ignore/steamroll me to get to my musician husband. I’m just the wife-of, to put up with.

Well, I’m tired of it.

I’m going to call you out if you’re a passive-aggressive asshole. For whatever reason, whether you glad-hand my husband while disrespecting me, whether you think he agrees with you for treating me less than and can continue conducting your business sucking up to his musical skills, whether you believe it’s okay to act like I don’t matter and my husband will DO NOTHING ABOUT IT.

My husband actually agrees with me, and what I think of you. What do you think about that? Most of the time, he’s not in your face ripping you a new asshole, because of me, because I don’t want to cause any more trouble, because I’m just as passive-aggressive as you are.

Only, I’m not as good at it.

You’ll see soon enough.